By Tom Chapman
For The Catholic Messenger
Senate File 471, the bill to prohibit abortions after 20 weeks post-fertilization, passed the House with an amendment by a vote of 55-41 last week and returns to the Senate. The bill corrects the deficiencies the Iowa Catholic Conference (ICC) saw in the House and adds a 72-hour informed consent period before an abortion takes place. If the Senate agrees, the bill goes to the governor.
SF 471 represents a meaningful gain for women and children and we will encourage the Senate to approve Iowa’s first restriction on abortion in many decades. Please ask your senator to support this bill.
The firearms use of force bill, House File 517, passed the Senate 33-17 with minimal changes. The bill has been sent to the governor for his expected signature. The ICC has opposed the bill particularly because it expands Iowa’s “Castle Doctrine.” HF 517 removes any duty to retreat from using deadly force anywhere, including to protect property.
Catholic moral teaching recognizes the right to self-defense as a way of preserving one’s life and in defense of others in the face of an imminent threat. We do have a moral obligation not to use deadly force unless absolutely necessary.
One of our legislative concerns is supporting a sustainable funding stream for Iowa’s regional mental health care system. In 1996, as part of an effort to shift mental health funding from counties to the state budget, the legislature imposed a cap on the total dollar amount in property taxes that counties could levy for mental health and intellectual/developmental disability services. Legislation has been introduced in both chambers (House Study Bill 194 and Senate Study Bill 1187) that would address the issue. The 14 mental health regions, generally speaking, would like to see an increased total base amount that can be levied.
We have been monitoring House Study Bill 187, a bill to limit state tax credits. We are particularly concerned about any impact on tax credits related to adoption, scholarships for nonpublic school children, assistance for parents of students in K-12 education (public and private) and the Earned Income Tax Credit (which supports low-income people who are working).
(Tom Chapman is executive director of the Iowa Catholic Conference.)